While prepping for Christmas a couple years ago my daughter asked if we could dye eggs. I scrunched my eyebrows in confusion and began to explain that dying eggs was an Easter tradition. Looking down into her bright, hopeful eyes, I stopped, shrugged, and said, “Sure, let’s dye Christmas eggs. Why not?”
It got me thinking. What other fun ideas have I been saying no to?
Anyone who’s met my daughter knows she has a creative spark. And I’d love nothing more than to watch her grow into a powerfully imaginative woman who creates the next Etsy. But until then, I’m often overwhelmed by the mess and chaos of her zany antics. I often catch myself saying “NO!” before she even has a chance to express herself.
Then I heard about the trend of parents surprising their kids with a YES DAY. Generally, this is a day where the kids get to do whatever they ask for: Cake for breakfast? Yes. 4 hours of screen time? Yes. Visit 5 parks in one day? Yes. You get the idea.
I loved the idea. But I knew my kids would quickly take advantage, and I’d have to abandon the concept if they asked to fly on an airplane or jump in an outdoor pool in February. Instead of granting a full day of revelry, I consciously looked for opportunities to say YES to specific requests. “Yes Moments,” if you will.
In true fashion, my daughter recently delivered a doozy of an idea: “Can we do a 3 a.m. challenge?”
If you don’t have YouTube addicted kids (congrats, and), this idea came from a YouTube family she likes to watch who had a series of videos on 3 a.m. challenges. They do things such as make slime in the middle of the night and wait to see if anything mysterious happens. (Spoiler alert: Their pink slime “suddenly” turns black. Shocker!) So she wanted to myth-bust their theory to see if mysterious things really happen at 3am.
Well, slime was out of the question. I can’t handle slime on a normal day, and I certainly wasn’t going to wake up to make it. But I wanted to see if there was another activity we could do to satisfy her 3 a.m. challenge request. We agreed on brownies. We would bake brownies at 3 a.m. And we did.
Just as you are probably rolling your eyes at me, my husband and oldest son didn’t understand why I would agree to such a thing. But it was a bonding experience we’ll both remember forever.
We started the fun early with a mom-and-me sleepover. I pulled out her trundle mattress and camped out in her room. We posted a few videos on my Instagram stories (This “yes” was negotiated down from her wanting to post a full video on YouTube. No deal, kid.) Then she pulled out a journal, that I didn’t realize she had, and she made notes about our adventure and even invited me to write a few things in her book. #momwin Then we set our alarm and snuggled in.
Our alarm woke us at 3 a.m., and we lumbered to the kitchen. We mixed brownie batter, chatted, and played with horses while the brownies baked. With two brothers always getting in her way, she relished having my undivided attention. Although my eyes were puffy, I could also see the magic in the solitude we shared. Around 4, we sampled our brownies and headed back to bed.
Saying Yes Is Not Just For the Kids
I’ve been a mom for 10 years, and I’ve been up at 3 a.m. tending to children more times than I care to count. I’ve slugged my way through long days on much less sleep. On those previous occasions, it was my duty to get up to feed, diaper, rock, and soothe babies or care for and clean up after sick kids. But this time, it was my delight to say yes to a little girl with big ideas.
Saying YES to moments doesn’t have to be elaborate (or sleep depriving). For me, it’s about learning to let go of the need to control everything and see what happens when the kids have the freedom to create.
Listen to your kids, learn what’s important to them, and watch them open up when you show interest in their ideas. It could be as simple as playing a video game with them, allowing them to cook dinner, or letting them create a fort with Amazon boxes before you recycle them. Letting them take the lead shows them that you trust them and that you value their ideas. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to eat brownies in the middle of the night.